Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chopin needs more Cowbell!

Consider the following list of songs, and ask yourself, "What do they have in common?"

  • Rock Lobster (B-52's)
  • The Devil Went Down To Georgia (Charlie Daniels Band)
  • Halfbreed (Cher)
  • Suite Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills, & Nash)
  • Anything by Credence Clearwater Revival, Def Leppard, or Jimmy Buffet
  • You Spin Me Round (Dead or Alive)
  • Mississippi Queen (Mountain)
  • Honky Tonk Woman (Rolling Stones)
  • Roxanne (The Police)
  • Creep (Radiohead)
  • Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac)
  • Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
  • Beds Are Burning (Midnight Oil)*
  • Late in the Evening (Paul Simon)
  • Limelight (Rush)
  • Dance to the Music (Sly and the Family Stone)
  • Unforgettable Fire (U2)
  • Oye Como Va (Santana)
  • Don't Fear the Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult)

* - For a real thrill, next chance you get, try to sing Beds Are Burning while smiling. I defy you on this. It is not possible. You cannot simultaneously smile AND sing this song. You will either laugh (and thereby stop singing) or do as the singer does, and scowl (and thereby stop smiling).

Give up? All songs on this list share two things. First, they are all great songs (YMMV). Second, they all prominently feature the Cowbell. Feel free to add your own. This is, of course, an abbreviated list, one that I culled while scanning the Cowbell Project at Geekspeakweekly.

In the meantime, we turn our attention to the last song on the above list, Don't Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. This song is the source of the best 6 minutes Saturday Night Live has enjoyed in, say, the last 20 years (again, YMMV). Watch this, in the unlikely event you haven't already seen it.

This skit has been the creative fodder for countless websites. A new one that came to my attention this week is MoreCowbell.dj. The premise is simple. Any piece of music can be improved by adding cowbell. Therefore, MoreCowbell.dj allows you to upload your own music, then add a customizable layer of cowbell on top. Say, for instance, that you think Mountain's version of Mississippi Queen didn't already have enough. Find it in the database (or upload your own version), and dial in an appropriate amount of cowbell. In scanning recent entries, I was surprised to find works by Phillip Glass, Elvis Costello, Thelonius Monk (!) and Smashing Pumpkins.

So I took the natural next step, and uploaded what will probably be the first Chopin piece I ever play, the 20th prelude (Opus 28 number 20, in C Minor). Here is said prelude with 42% Cowbell.

Make your own at MoreCowbell.dj


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